Presidential Transition

Get to know Dr. Colleen Hanycz

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Academic degrees

  • B.A. in history, St. Michael’s College, Toronto
  • Bachelor of Laws (JD), Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
  • Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of Philosophy in Law (Ph.D.), Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto

Recent career

  • President of La Salle University in Philadelphia, 2015-21
  • Principal (President) of Brescia University College in London, Ontario, 2008–15

Favorite quote: "We cannot discover new oceans, unless we have courage to lose sight of the shore." – André Gide 

What are you most looking forward to about Cincinnati? "I am learning that there is much to love about the Queen City! Cincinnati is home to an extraordinary business community that includes many Xavier alumni and great opportunities for Musketeer students. Peter and I are also looking forward to Oktoberfest, an annual festival that is a big deal back home in Ontario."

How does Xavier stand out from other colleges and universities? "Xavier is a school on the move. It has benefited from tremendous leadership, great colleagues and a highly engaged student body, all of which are supported by a passionate alumni community in a strong region. When these elements converge around a mission to make the world better, the possibilities are endless."

What are your thoughts about being the first lay (non-Jesuit) president in Xavier's history?: "I am so honored to have been chosen as Xavier’s first lay president, and will anchor my leadership in a deep commitment to the Jesuit mission of forming men and women for and with others."

What's the best thing to know about your family? "Peter, the kids and I are a very tight unit and we are loving what we affectionately refer to as our 'American adventure;' it has certainly been interesting so far. As our youngest heads to college next fall, we will officially be empty-nesters and are adding this to the list of interesting transitions that 2021 will bring!"

Looking back, what's one piece of advice you would give your college-aged self? "Of the long list that springs to mind, one recommendation would be to focus less on having it 'all figured out.' My journey has gone in directions I could never have imagined, and I wish I had spent less time worrying about a concrete plan."

What is the best part about working in higher education? "The draw of higher education is the opportunity to participate in forming the next generation of ethical, engaged, curious, unconventional and enlightened citizens. That is the promise of education, done well, and I love playing a part in that mission."

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work? "I find baking and gardening great for stress reduction; not surprisingly, my garden last summer during Covid was on point, and I won’t even comment on the amount of baked goods that came out of our kitchen. Also, I am a keen student of college basketball!"

What is your favorite holiday? "My birthday is on Canada Day (our version of Independence Day), so I have always enjoyed the combination of these celebrations. Since arriving in the US, I have come to love the Thanksgiving holiday, especially as it signals the move into Advent and Christmas."

What you have been watching on Netflix, reading, or listening to lately? "Having been mesmerized by The Queen's Gambit, I wish I had paid more attention to the game of chess as a kid. I am patiently awaiting the next season of The Handmaid's Tale, as a longstanding fan of Margaret Atwood's writing and I learn something about higher education from everything that Jeff Selingo writes. Having loved two months of Christmas music on Spotify, I have now returned to my home base of retro 80s music on the radio."